Portia Hardy Contributing Writer
The beloved UMF “Rocky Horror Picture Show” shadowcast is in danger of disappearing due to a lack of Student Senate Spring Fling funding. Head director, senior Chloe Woodward, and her directing team are fighting to surpass financial obstacles for at least one more show this spring.
“Rocky Horror might not happen next year,” said Woodard. “We have always received funding through the Spring Fling senate funding. [But] there is no Spring fling, that is confirmed.”
Choreographer Alexis Ramee, a junior, is concerned for the show’s usual charitable donations and new monetary stress placed on the cast. “. . .everything we raised as a group went straight to SAPARS (Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services),” she said in an email interview. “Now that there is no Spring Fling any more, we, as a whole group, have to come together to raise money so we can get the costumes and props we need for the show.”
Woodward said cast members have had to dip into their own personal funds for supplies. “I’ve already spent over 200 dollars on getting to start the show. The cut of funding might mean that there is no more Rocky.”
Rocky Horror has been shown at UMF for about 10 years now as a shadowcast, where actors and dancers perform on stage with the movie playing on screen behind them. Shadowcast origins trace back to the film’s release in the 1970’s, as does its reputation as a cult-classic.
“Rocky Horror is a movie that was made in the 70’s that didn’t do good at all when first released so they then moved it to the midnight showings,” Ramee said in her email, disclosing a brief history of the show. “By doing that only a select few people could even watch it but it was those people that got stuck on it. That’s how the ‘cult’ part all started,” she said. “It influences today’s viewers because a lot of us go in knowing what the call lines are or even what the purpose of the movie as a whole was. Even people who haven’t seen it or haven’t immersed themselves within this culture come out of the woodworks to see the UMF production. The cast members are the audience members as well.”
Senior Darby Murnane has been involved with Rocky for three years now, playing lead roles like Janet and Frank-N-Furter. This year, on the directing team, her current title is “Helping Princess,” she said.
“[Rocky] is an erotizised paradody of ‘Frankenstein,’ in which our Dr. Frank-N-Furter, our Frankenstein copy, is building himself a lover instead of a monster, and the deep subplot is he’s going to build multiple lovers and sell them off for profit,” said Murnane.
The show is unique for the audience participation in call-lines, developed by early audiences who saw midnight showings on a regular basis. The audience often yells, “Asshole!” and “Slut!” at characters Brad and Janet, a newly engaged couple.
The plot follows Brad and Janet as they stumble across Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s mansion one dark night looking for a telephone to use, “and then everything goes wrong,” Murnane explains.
The show’s rich history of traditions is the cast’s responsibility to uphold. “It carries a lot of weight, the call lines created a forced interaction and participation with the film,” Murnane said. “It’s not really a zone-out show, because there’s so much happening, you really have to be in on it. It’s primarily a cult of the LGBTQ community and the torch gets passed along from cast to cast to uphold the culture there.”
Ramee and Murnane hold out hope that someone will take over the show to keep it alive on campus next year. “I do hope a club will come and start doing Rocky. It will be very sad to see it end. But if this is the end, then you should be damn sure we are going out with a bang,” Ramee wrote.
The directors are prioritizing the survival of the family-oriented nature of the cast. “The Rocky cast really is a family for the people that are in it and I would like to see that continued for people who really need that in the way that I needed it and still do. I found Rocky when I was struggling and it saved my life in more ways than one,” Murnane said.
In Woodward’s time as assistant director and now leader, she’s seen what the Rocky family means. “There’s been so many people that come up to me after the show and say, ‘Wow, you guys really helped me through all these hard times,’” she said. “One of our biggest things is consent, it really helps people who have struggled with sexual assault.”
“It’s a day where people can just be themselves without fear of judgment or cruelty,” said Ramee.
Those interested in helping can donate to the cast or Woodward’s GoFundMe page.
By Nathan McIvor, Vice-President
Recently the annual shadow-cast production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” premiered in Lincoln Auditorium, exploring themes of sexuality while advocating for a safe space built on consent. The 1975 film was projected on screen while student actors lip-synched and pantomimed scenes with a small army of backup dancers.
Keeping with tradition, Rocky “virgins” seeing the show for the first time that night had lipstick “V”s written on their faces, though their welcome did not end there. Director Nathaniel Red and Choreographer Charity LaFrance invited the “virgins” onstage to have their cherries popped, the cherries being red balloons placed between their legs.
Red noted that “the show is a bit of a culture shock for people who see it for the first time. I think it’s really important for people to see it.” He finds that the sense of shock can clear a path for healthy self-expression. “‘Rocky’ is a wonderful show that lets people be free. It’s great that UMF has this,” said Red, who had worked as a co-director and assistant director of “Rocky” in previous years.
Caitlin Hession, who plays the character Columbia in the show, echoed Red’s views of the show. “It’s freeing to see ‘Rocky.’ American culture is very constricted. Performing in this show, you can wear as much or as little as you want and no one will judge you for it,” Hession said.
Hession explained that “consent is really important in rehearsal and even in auditions” due to the show’s risqué nature, actors must also confirm whether or not they are comfortable dressing in certain outfits or acting in particular ways at every step of the process.
This year marked Hession’s first time playing main character, Columbia, which she enjoyed as “[She had] a chance to breathe as my character is not always on stage.” In the previous two shows, she was a dancer. She will graduate from UMF this spring.
Other actors are performing in “Rocky” for the first time this year. McKayla Mirois, a junior playing Janet, is “really excited, as the show has pushed me out of my comfort zone in a good way. My part is unique. She’s one of the more toned-down characters. She’s often scared or sexually confused. All the other characters are really into it.”
Working behind the scenes, the show’s technical Assistant Director Vanessa Brown dealt with stage lighting and monitoring individual scenes. “‘Rocky’ is one of those shows that everyone comes to see and support their fellow students,” Brown said. “[It’s] excit[ing] to be working on the show because everything’s different each year.”
The play “The Rocky Horror Show” premiered in London in 1973. A playful blend of tropes from horror and science-fiction genres, the musical embraces gender fluidity and the playful blurring of sexual norms as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, the primary antagonist, seduces both Janet and her fiance, Brad. A film adaptation retitled “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and a massive cult following followed.
Brown also commented on this production’s charitable cause. “All profits go to SAPARS [Sexual Assault Prevention & Assault Services] and we also do a raffle to raise more money.”
By Jane Metsker Contributing Writer
This year’s UMF production of “Rocky Horror Picture Show” will be showcasing its K-Pop influenced dance numbers under the leadership of new directors senior Zach Roberge and junior Nate Red.
Roberge and Red were assistant directors last year, and both have a few years’ experience with show. “We are making it awesome. We’re focusing more on choreography, keeping what we’ve liked of previous shows, taking everything else and amping it up by ten,” Roberge said.
Sophomore Chloe Woodward, who is assisting the directors, said the show will be unique this year because of the new direction and the dancers’ involvement. “We’re adding a lot more to it. We changed some of the
This years Rocky emphasizes consent and dives into K-pop. (Photo by Jane Metsker)
scenes and we have more extras,” said Woodward. “The dancers are a lot more involved and there’s more scenes they’re involved in than in the movie.”
Part of the directors’ visions was the addition of K-Pop to the pre-existing dance numbers. Red said, “As part of our new vision for the show Zach [Roberge] brought up the idea of around the world for spring fling,”
There is further freedom to change up the production as almost every member of the cast has not performed in the show before. “Generally, the whole concept is to mimic the show, but we’re taking it a bit further, and adding a lot of our own aspects and touches,” Red said.
While the topic of consent has been a prevalent aspect of previous performances, this year the directors are making a point to emphasize the importance of it.
Roberge and Red were motivated by the idea of consent and decided that all the proceeds from the show will be donated to sexual assault prevention services. “Rocky’s always been this place of consent and freedom of sexual expression, that’s the kind of atmosphere we’re trying to set in this place,” said Roberge. “It’s a movement that Nate [Red] and I can get behind and really support.”
Freshman AJ Saulnier, who is playing the role of Columbia, said that auditions were consent-based. “During auditions and the first few rehearsals we would constantly ask each other for consent,” said Saulnier. “With stuff like this there’s so much trust.”
Darby Murnane, who is playing Janet, said, “I think it’s more comfortable to dance on the edges of sexuality here because it’s comic relief, it doesn’t feel dirty or unclean. It’s all for the punchline.” Murnane expressed that she feels completely comfortable in the environment created by the directors and the cast.
There will be raffle tickets sold for a chance to win copies of the “Rocky Horror” DVD, sculptures, and posters signed by the cast. Penis gummies, penis pops, and miscellaneous Rocky items will also be sold at the event.
The UMF Production of Rocky Horror Picture Show will be April 28 in the Lincoln Auditorium at 9 p.m. and midnight.